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|12-02-02: Farmer may change plea in
county pollution case
|By NANCY ALLEN
The Daily Standard
The final pretrial/change of plea hearing in a stream litter case
against a Fort Recovery-area farmer could be set in three weeks, a Celina Municipal Court
official said this morning.
Judge James Scheer is currently awaiting an additional filing that
could resolve the matter involving Mike Fullenkamp, 707 St. Joe Road, Fort Recovery.
Fullenkamp pleaded not guilty on June 10 in Celina Municipal Court to a
charge of stream litter after manure from his dairy operation got into the Wabash River on
or about May 9.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and $500 fine
plus court costs.
Officials from the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Division of Wildlife and Mercer County Wildlife Officer Ryan Garrison all initially
responded to the farm to find an overflowing manure lagoon. The manure apparently was
seeping from the lagoon and into a tributary that leads to the river, an OEPA spokeswoman
said in May.
Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer has said that EPA records indicated
Fullenkamp's dairy operation had 380 milking cows, 400 heifers and 50 calves.
The Daily Standard also has learned that Fullenkamp paid $5,407.69 in
civil damages to the Ohio Division of Wildlife last September after more manure from his
dairy operation got into the Wabash River on or around Aug. 12, just about three months
after the May incident. The manure reportedly entered Fullenkamp's farm tile system before
entering the river.
The civil damages paid by Fullenkamp represent restitution for the loss
of 11,789 fish killed by the manure and investigation costs, said Kevin O'Dell, assistant
law enforcement administrator with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
"We actually get out and count the fish and figure up an
amount," O'Dell said of the process for figuring civil penalties.
River and creek pollution, specifically manure from farming operations,
is a common problem in Mercer County, O'Dell said. The county typically ranks first
or second in the state annually in agriculture receipts.
A manure pollution incident is only considered a fish kill when the
amount of fish killed is worth more than $50. If it is under $50, the incident is
considered stream litter, which can net the guilty person a fine equivalent to throwing a
pop can into the river.
Stream litter charges are disposed through Celina Municipal Court.
O'Dell said minnows, catfish, suckers, bluegill and carp were among the
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